Fat Men From Space

Book review by
Norah Caroline Piehl, Common Sense Media
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Kids with a bent for the absurd will love this.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

William uses his "radio tooth" to play tricks on his parents and teacher.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids with a bent for the absurd will eat this one up. Cartoonish drawings add to the zany style.

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What's the story?

What starts as a simple trip to the dentist turns into the adventure of a lifetime when William's tooth picks up radio frequencies from outer space. Although this brief novel is short on depth, it's got wacky humor to spare, with imaginative, absurd details that will make kids laugh out loud.


Is it any good?

Too sophisticated to be an early reader, too short to appeal to many older readers, this novel is aimed right at middle-grade kids with a certain brand of off-beat humor. Pinkwater's novels win fans among kids with a cynical bent, and this one is no exception. He toys with the conventions of the sci-fi novel, with fashion-impaired aliens who attack Earth because "spacemen always invade places." Worldwide panic results when the spacemen threaten earth's supply of doughnuts and cheeseburgers, and readers familiar with recent disaster movies will chuckle at this parody of the genre.

This novel makes up in bizarreness what it lacks in depth; William himself is not a developed character, and his parents and teachers are mere buffoons. Wildly imaginative details such as the spacemen's plaid jackets and hamburger-shaped spacecraft, however, make such weaknesses seem less significant as they set young readers' imaginations free.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the wacky humor in this book. How does this story compare with other science fiction stories you've read?

Book details

  • Author: Daniel Pinkwater
  • Genre: Humor
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publication date: January 1, 1977
  • Number of pages: 57
  • Last updated: September 16, 2015

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